One Gaffe at a Time – Step 4

Step 4: Made a directive that all minions turn their will and lives over to management care. 

My sponsor, Donald D., is pleased with my 12+1 Step progress and was particularly delighted with the reversal of character and wordy transformations pondered during Step 3 of my recovery. Unfortunately, Step 4 may be a tougher challenge, especially considering Step 4 may require competent minions to turn their will and lives over to incompetent managers.

The Peter Principle states that all employees in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. Hence, the higher up the corporate ladder you look, the more likely to find incompetent managers. I refer to this as Ladder Fatigue: the further up an organisational ladder a competent employee climbs, multiplied by the length of time in the senior position, the less likely the individual will remain competent. Although a functional addict can still be a competent worker, the concept of a “functional incompetent” is an oxymoron. Would it be oxymoronic to expect a competent minion to turn their will and life over to an incompetent supervisor?

Step 4 inspired Dr. StrangeJob’s theory of osmosis-moronus—the process of becoming a moron through assimilation. Osmosis-moronus has proven a key factor in the proliferation of incompetent bureaucracies. The adage that one rotten apple can ruin the whole bushel is scientifically proven. Speaking of oxymora, it is my unbiased opinion that the common abnormality with the systematic chaos involving civil servants has brought me to the partial conclusion that I am absolutely unsure how we got into this fine mess. But it does explain absent minded career politicians that are clearly confused and deafeningly silent when discussing corporate ethics. Need I say more?

For every yin there is a yang, and for every incompetent manager, there is a competent employee just waiting to be found. Competence, although rare, can have a positive effect on an incompetent environment, a process the Doctor refers to as reverse-osmosis-moronus. Fortunately, working the Steps of IA may thwart osmosis-moronus as you search for the ultimate higher power of true competence. Step 4 provides hope and a mission to expel incompetence, to seek out the competent, and to boldly go where senior managers have rarely gone before. Join the search for the Competence of your understanding, but be forewarned, we are never truly cured of incompetence. What we have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our competent condition.

Step 4 may sound a bit preachy, but then again, I should never generalise. It may be my least favourite step but it is not a real phony. It is a sure bet or definite maybe that it could be a deliberate mistake or planned serendipity that this bittersweet post makes an honest liar of me. Or maybe I am just being oxy-moronic.  

Future columns will discuss my continued journey through the IA recovery process. Until then, feel free to view the inaugural IA meeting, learn about Incompetents Anonymous, read the Audacity Prayer and 12+1 Steps, or become familiar with IA’s additional support groups.

Dr. StrangeJob

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